May 27, 2022

Reps. Mike Levin and Jodey Arrington Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Transition Assistance Program for Servicemembers

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Levin (D-CA) and Jodey Arrington (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan Transition Improvement by Estimating Risk (TIER) Act to improve the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for servicemembers separating from the military and preparing for civilian careers. The bill clarifies and adds new screening criteria, such as childcare needs and spousal employment status, to improve the program’s effectiveness.

“As servicemembers prepare to end their active-duty military service, it’s critical that they have effective support to help transition into civilian life, and the Transition Assistance Program is a fundamental part of the process,” said Rep. Levin. “With these basic fixes to better understand servicemember’s separation status and personal factors, we can significantly improve the program and help ensure more servicemembers go on to successful civilian careers. I’m grateful for Congressman Arrington’s partnership over the last several years to improve the Transition Assistance Program, and I look forward to working with my Veterans’ Affairs Committee colleagues to advance this bill.”

“An ounce of education and employment opportunity is worth a pound in what it costs in veteran unemployment and homelessness," said Rep. Arrington. "The TIER Act will ensure our veterans are placed on career and education pathways that best fits their needs, strengths, and interests. This legislation will build on the work we've accomplished through the Bill Mulder Transition Improvement Act to provide our service members the most effective and seamless transition to civilian life.”

The TIER Act builds on the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which required each military service secretary, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Veterans Affairs, to establish at least three pathways for their members receiving individualized TAP counseling. Those pathways, also known as tiers, indicate a servicemember’s potential risk during the transition process and the level of support they will need. Counselors assign each servicemember to a tier based on a number of factors, including rank, term of service, disability, health, military occupational specialty, educational and employment history, and more.

The bill makes changes to address confusion around servicemembers’ medical discharge or involuntary discharge status, which will help the military services best place servicemembers in the correct TAP pathway. It also adds new screening criteria to better determine a servicemember’s appropriate pathway and risk level. Those new criteria include childcare needs, the employment status of other household members, the servicemember’s duty station location, the effects of operating tempo and personnel tempo on the servicemember, and whether the servicemember is an Indian or urban Indian, as defined under the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Reps. Levin and Arrington previously introduced the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William "Bill" Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2019, which was signed into law in January 2021 as part of the Johnny Isakson and David P. Roe, M.D. Veterans Health Care and Benefits Improvement Act of 2020. The bill recreated a pilot program for off-base transition training to make the transition process easier for veterans and spouses by giving them more time to access resources and digest the information provided to them, all while living in their new community. The legislation also created a grant program for organizations to provide multiple transition assistance services such as resume assistance, interview training, and job recruitment training from a central source.